Everest on Grand is, on a whole, the best Nepalese restaurant in the Twin Cities. The decor is nice and cozy and the service is friendly (though fairly slow, so don't expect a quick lunch here).
First, I started out with a samosa ($2.50). It was flaky, hot and nicely seasoned; it was definitely one of the better samosas I've had in the Twin Cities.
Next I had a kathar curry (jackfruit curry) ($10.95), which was great; the portion size was easily 75% larger than the jackfruit curry at The Himalayan, but the same price. And they didn't skimp on the jackfruit, either. The flavors were good, but it could have used a bit more seasoning or spice. I enjoyed the extra finishes they added, such as fresh chopped cilantro and tomato.
Finally, you can get a good sense of the sophistication and quality control of an Indian or Nepalese restaurant by their rice and bread. Accordingly, this is where I realized that Everest was the best Nepalese joint in town. I had a side of white rice ($1) and a piece of tandoori roti ($2.50), which is a vegan alternative to naan (naan is usually made with milk/yogurt). I didn't like that they charged me for the rice, which seems really cheap and tacky, especially if it's not even brown rice. That said, it was some of the best white rice I've had in the US: it was bone-dry, long-grain basmati rice, nicely fluffed. It takes skill to make rice that well, with the grains not sticking to each other. You don't see it often. The roti was also excellent: light, soft, fluffy and huge. From the rice and roti alone, I could tell that Everest has a serious, diligent cook.
A few drawbacks, though: because they have a buffet, it's not exactly a quiet place. There's constant chatter and over-fed people are continually shuffling around. Don't expect to have a quiet, laid-back lunch here.
Second, while I like that they have a 15% discount for MPR members, they didn't give me a discount, claiming it is valid only on weekdays. Something didn't sound right about that to me, and once I got home and checked, I saw that THEY were in the wrong; there is a 15% discount at all times of the day, every day. I didn't appreciate them not knowing their own policy.
Third, the menu is very busy and not laid-out in a clear manner. I had to ask questions about confirm what's vegan vs. vegetarian.
Lastly, Everest doesn't have an extensive, innovative chai menu like Namaste Cafe; nor does it offer soy milk for its regular chai, which seems like a major oversight. Other than these drawbacks, I definitely liked Everest and will be back to try other dishes.